Magnificent Live Oaks, some hundreds of years old, add to the natural beauty and soul of South Mississippi. Many trees, once lush with leaves, have been under a lot of stress, since Katrina.
"Can you see this tree is not doing as good as some of the other trees?" asks Robert Crawford.
Robert Crawford is an arborist. He believes about 30 percent of the Oaks, mainly along the beach front, have died. Another 30 percent are at risk.
"If we don't do something to change the way we've been thinking about our trees, we're going to start losing them left and right," says Crawford. "It's a problem that's going to get worse."
Crawford says don't blame the problem on Katrina, but rather on what happened after the storm. He says crews that removed debris, also scraped away much of the rich, nutritious soil that sustained the trees.
"Because they scraped down so far, and they just put beach sand to level it out," says Crawford as he dug through a few feet of the sand to reach the soil.
Crawford has also noticed more red clay appearing in the soil. And heavy equipment pushing down on the dirt prevents air, water, and nutrients from reaching the roots.
"This was a root that was just damaged," says Crawford. "It's just bad. We got lots of damage here."
"It just hurts my heart. It really does," says Lynn McLean, Board President of the Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation.
Lynn McLean wants to bring the dying trees back to life. Her organization, the Mississippi Renaissance Garden Foundation, is urging city leaders, experts, and volunteers to act now to protect the trees that are still standing.
"We need the spirit of the Mississippi Gulf Coastal people to come together to help with this effort and to save our trees," says McLean.
The Garden Foundation held a "Save Our Dying Oaks" meeting Wednesday night at D'Iberville City Hall. The group is looking for tree experts and volunteers to do fund raising, work on projects, and organize crews in each community. Click here to learn more, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.